Indivisible: Conejo Weekly Newsletter

This Sunday at 9:30 a.m.!

Canvass in Newbury Park

With Indivisible: Conejo

and Conejo Valley Democrats!

Please RSVP!

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If you attended Indivisible: Conejo's CVUSD Challengers Forum last weekend (see the report in this newsletter), you know there are some excellent candidates positioned to flip our school board away from the extremism that has characterized the "leadership" of Mike Dunn and John Andersen. Meanwhile, both Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and Rep. Julia Brownley have drawn Republican opponents for their races this fall.

In other words, there's much to discuss with local progressives -- and we'll have our first opportunity to do that this Sunday, March 11, as we hit the ground (walking) during our initial Conejo Valley canvass of 2018.

We'll meet at 9:30 a.m. at Beth Dressed, 3541 Old Conejo Road, Suite 116, in Newbury Park. We'll receive training and precinct lists from Henry Montalvo, elections leader for both Indivisible: Conejo and our canvass partners at the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley. Then we'll take to the streets of Newbury Park through the morning, engaging Democratic voters to make sure they're familiar with the year's issues and candidates up and down the ballot. Snacks and a light lunch will be provided.

This is the work that must be done to achieve our goal of fighting Trump and the Republican agenda -- and we need your help! Please RSVP, and make plans to join us as we begin working to swing the CVUSD board and keep our legislative offices blue!

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CVUSD Challengers Talk School Security,

Budgets, Enrollment, Extremism

During Indivisible Forum


WIth a format that allowed candidates to speak at length about their backgrounds and present their visions for our school district's future, Indivisible: Conejo's CVUSD Challengers Forum on March 4 played a key role in the process of determining who will oppose, and defeat, extremists Mike Dunn and John Andersen in November.

Click here to see a video of the CVUSD Challengers Forum! 

Current board member Dr. Betsy Connolly laid out the stakes during her introductory remarks. "We're embarking on a process effort to see that the school board returns to a responsible, student-focused, non-partisan majority. This election cycle isn't going to be like a typical school board race, in a town where most people aren't paying attention. This one is going to get big. 

"We're in a little bubble here [among political activists], where we think everybody knows what has happened with the board, and how it's damaged our school district. But they don't -- they have no idea. People who are engaged, and people like you who are concerned, are going to have to raise funds, raise awareness, and work on behalf of candidates -- and against other candidates. It's going to need to be a huge effort."

At the outset, candidates were asked questions about board governance as well as school security. Nelson Buss, a local Realtor who attended high school in CVUSD and has two young daughters, said of the recent clamor for tougher security measures, "I don’t know how a school district by itself can create enough change, create enough security to make us feel our children are going to be safe no matter what...We can put fences around our schools, we can put metal detectors at every entrance. But those are things that will just make us feel better. Until we change our culture -- our culture of violence -- and until we change the belief that guns are more important than human lives in this country, it’s going to be a tough row to hoe."

Mary Anne Van Zuyle, a GIS mapping specialist with the city of Thousand Oaks who has a sophomore at Westlake High School, noted her disappointment at the school's response to a recent shooting threat left as grafitti on a bathroom wall. "I learned about the threat on social media," and not from the school's administration, she noted. "I had a conversation with [WHS principal Jason] Branham, and I was disappointed when he said he wouldn’t do things any differently...You’re weighing the balance between investigating a threat and letting the parents of 2,200 students know exactly what’s going on in the school, and whether they should send their kids to school. I think they made a horrible judgment. The way to build trust is by being open and honest, even if it’s scary -- and even if the school has shortcomings."

While describing her decision to run for the board, Jenny Fitzgerald -- an attorney with Anthem Blue Cross -- told of her first brush with local governance as a teenager in northern California. She had been frustrated when an expensive makeover of her local high school hadn't included a new fine arts building, so she lobbied school board members and other stakeholders relentlessly until funds were appropriated to create spaces for theater, music, dance and visual arts. "Now, every time I pass that building or see information about events there on Facebook, I'm reminded of two things I learned," she said. "One is the power of students, and the power of a community rallying together for something important. And, two, how important it is that all students feel valued – not just those whom we hope to uplift in an academic way, but students who have different and unique skills. We need to make sure that we as a community, and as a school board, are providing them with opportunities to grow and develop their own skills and interests."

As Dr. Connolly noted, the path from now until November will include fundraising, endorsements, marketing and more -- but Bill Gorback, a retired teacher and longtime counselor at the school-site and district levels, said he'll place a high value on shoe leather. "My goal is to hit every neighborhood in the Conejo, and knock on doors and work face to face," he said. "I had one gentleman who said, 'I’ve lived in this house 46 years, and no candidate for school board has ever come to my front door.' I went out on a cold, windy, somewhat rainy day, and had someone say, 'If you're doing this, you must really love our kids.' Yes, I do."

Watch this newsletter for information on future candidate forums and other opportunities to meet and support the CVUSD challengers as we fight to defeat Dunn & Andersen in November!

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Marchers: Please complete this poll!

Student organizers from the Conejo Valley's high schools have determined that their destination will be downtown Los Angeles on March 24 for the nationwide March for Our Lives, organized and inspired by the survivors of last month's shooting in Parkland, FL. Indivisible: Conejo and other (grownup) activist groups are joining with the students in distributing a poll to gauge interest in marching and/or traveling as a Conejo cohort. We'll also help coordinate plans for those planning to march in Ventura that morning. Wherever you plan to participate, please complete and submit this poll; just as important, please SHARE it on social media and via email, particularly with students!


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